Are Yoga Asanas Just Poses?
There is no doubt, with Hatha Yoga and its explosion in popularity in the west, that physical poses (asanas) have become very prominent. Yes, it is a great feeling to touch your toes, balance on your hands etc. But what is the point?
There have been many physical benefits associated to each pose, stressing the therapeutic and important use of the asana practice. However, particularly in the modern age of social media and the focus on the external manifestation of poses, this knowledge has been largely side-lined.
Yoga is concerned with finding union – reaching divinity through the amalgamation of the individual soul (atman) with the universal (brahman). Thus, it begs the question, how does relieving back pain, or performing ‘advanced’ poses achieve this?
Tapas, usually translated as austerity or discipline, is the key. By cultivating daily devotion, the student uses the physical form to create strength and stillness, so that they can begin to explore within. For instance, if one suffers with back pain, something that is constantly bothering them, how can they expect to still their mind?
Asana is to be able to take a comfortable seat. The body must be healthy.
Dedication is required, if progress is to be made. This ensures daily practice and a willingness to develop, ensuring the burning zeal of tapas builds inside. However, we must be vigilant not to confuse the goal. The achievement of each asana is a representation of tapas (our discipline and adherence to the yogic path), and our daily devotion towards the goal of reaching divine union. The pose is not an end in itself. When we become fixated on the poses, our ego entrenches us and we lose sense of the true nature of our practice, and our existence.
Do not obsess over the poses. All that is asked, is you practice every day. If the path is followed with sincerity, then all the riches of this wonderful practice will slowly begin to reveal themselves.
For information on our yoga courses and teacher training certifications, where you can gain a solid understanding and create a daily devotional practice, please visit the relevant pages listed below